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Playing With / The Starscream

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Basic Trope: The Big Bad's treacherous second-in-command (or occasionally lower in the ranks), who plots to overthrow him and take his place.

  • Straight: Halgar is Emperor Tyranus's Dragon, but secretly plans to betray him when he's vulnerable and take his place.
  • Exaggerated:
    • Halgar is obviously trying to murder Emperor Tyranus whenever he can. Emperor Tyranus trusts Halgar too much to notice.
    • Halgar tries to usurp Tyranus every 5 minutes, never succeeding.
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    • Halgar plans to usurp Tyranus. Skullgar plans to usurp Halgar. Terillian plans to usurp Skullgar. and so on, and so forth, through Vyshe in middle management all the way down to Rekkr, the trash man, whose dog plots to take over from him.
  • Downplayed: Halgar and Tyranus get into a fight, and Halgar wins; he hasn't been plotting before now, but exploits Tyranus' current incapacity.
  • Justified:
  • Inverted:
  • Subverted:
  • Double Subverted:
    • ...But once he got rid of competition and earned the Emperor's trust in the process, plans to betray him for real.
    • ...But Halgar actually wins the fight and kills Tyranus, taking his place in the process.
  • Parodied:
    • Halgar carries a freshly sharpened knife at all times that's inscribed with the words "Insert Between Emperor Tyranus' Shoulder Blades".
    • Emperor Tyranus laughs at the villagers for being so willing to trust him and asks how can someone be so stupid to do that. Then he talks about how incredibly trustworthy Halgar is despite how Halgar is a well known Obviously Evil case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
  • Zig Zagged: After killing the Emperor, Halgar proves to be a much better tactician and soon has the heroes in retreat. But before he can lead the final assault, he's stabbed to death by Skullgar, his long-loyal Lieutenant who felt Halgar was getting too much of the credit.
  • Averted: Halgar seems to plot against the Emperor, often even talking with other minions about getting rid of him, but he never tries to overthrow him.
  • Enforced:
    • "A rag tag bunch of misfits fighting the evil empire is fine for our kiddie audience. The older demographic wants something more realistic. How about the second in command has been sabotaging the emperor's plans to undermine the military's confidence in him in preparation for a coup. Then we could move into a Mêlée à Trois plotline."
    • "We need a good way to dispose of the old villain and introduce the new one. How about an usurper?"
    • The work in question is part of the Transformers franchise, and features the Trope Namer himself, due to corporate mandate and/or fan expectations.
  • Lampshaded:
    • "Many long to be emperor. It wouldn't be odd if one of his underlings planned to usurp his power."
    • "Why did I even hire that backstabbing asshole?"
  • Invoked: The Empire encourages disloyalty in underlings, on the grounds that an underling who is strong, ambitious, and clever enough to overthrow the Emperor has every right to the throne, and fending off those who think they're strong, ambitious, and clever enough will help keep him sharp.
  • Exploited:
    • The heroes know about Halgar's ambitions, and make sure to always let him escape. After all, a house divided cannot stand...
    • Or, they let Emperor Tyranus know of Halgar's plans, sparking an Enemy Civil War.
  • Defied: Halgar proves that he's loyal to the Emperor whenever he can.
  • Discussed:
    • "So, you are just waiting for an opportunity to kill me and get in charge, don't you?" ("Uhm, uh - no?!")
    • As above, but Halgar's reply is a knife to to the chest, a sly smile, and the words "Not any more."
  • Conversed: "Why is everyone in the Emperor's inner circle such a backstabber? You'd think he'd want minions he could count on."
  • Implied:
    • Tyranus is always on guard around Halgar, and Halgar is often involved with the plans of Tyranus that end up backfiring, but there's no concrete evidence that Halgar is actually trying to kill or discredit Tyranus.
    • Halgar is doing things behind Tyranus' back, but it not clear if he wants to overthrow Tyranus, is doing what Tyranus is not willing to do for the sake of of the Empire, or he simply wants some extra money on the side.
  • Deconstructed:
    • Halgar's plans to overthrow the Emperor (even if they were justified) actually help the heroes to defeat both of them in the process. Halgar then learns that, if he kept his lust for power in check and remained loyal to the Emperor, the heroes would be crushed.
    • Halgar manages to overthrow the Emperor and defeat the heroes, but he has no idea how to rule the empire, and so economic failures and civil wars ravage the lands, and in the end, Halgar himself is overthrown.
    • Halgar succeeds in overthrowing Tyranus, but he's not the strategic planner that Tyranus was, turning his attempt at killing the heroes into an even bigger fail than what would happen if Tyranus had led the attack.
    • Emperor Tyranus has Halgar executed for his disloyalty.
  • Reconstructed:
    • Tired of seeing the Emperor losing time after time to the heroes, and putting down all his suggestions and plans, Halgar kills the Emperor and becomes the new Emperor himself. Under his new leadership, the Empire becomes a major threat to the heroes.
    • Halgar realize that Emperor Tyranus is mentally insane and a incompetent ruler and decide that he should be disposed. Halgar does it, takes over The Empire and, surprising, makes a truce with the heroes, which end the war. Halgar then clean up the mess Tyranus made and The Empire becomes a prospering, successful nation. Halgar also create several diplomatic and economic relationships and alliances with the other neighbour nations. The heroes, who were first suspicious at Halgar, accept that Halgar is a good leader and actually become his allies.
  • Played For Laughs: Halgar attempts to usurp Tyranus yet again. Tyranus is so used to this that he's got the dates of Halgar's uprisings marked on his calendar.
  • Played For Drama: Halgar's schemes are causing Tyranus to become paranoid, leading to Sanity Slippage and taking it out on his subjects.

Back to The Starscream, before he betrays you... Too late!

Example of: